NINETY YEARS A GROWIN’ a brief look at our origins and achievements.

a brief look at our origins and achievements.
Martin Quinn qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant in
1994 and also holds a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and an MSc in
Management and Applications of IT in Accounting. He completed
his PhD at the University of Dundee in 2010. Martin worked in
manufacturing firms in Ireland (finance and IT roles) for over 11 years
and acquired intimate knowledge of the paper and packaging industry
in both finance and information technology fields. Martin joined DCU
Business School in 2004. His research interests involve ERP systems
and management accounting, management accounting in small and
medium sized enterprises, processual change in management accounting,
organisational routines, institutional theory and cloud accounting.
Brid Murphy qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. After
qualification, she gained practical experience working in Ireland and
overseas. Brid joined DCU Business School in 2002. She completed
her PhD at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014. Her research
interests involve professional competence, professional accounting
education, professional and organisational ethics.
In 1922, many challenges awaited the new Irish Free State and at this time, professional accountants were not that
common. The principal accounting bodies were the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and the Society of
Incorporated Accountants and Auditors. In 1925, the London Society of Accountants (a forerunner to the Association of
Chartered Certified Accountants) established an Irish Free State Branch, holding an inaugural dinner at the Hibernian
Hotel, Dublin on February 7th. The President of the Branch, Sir Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde noted “people
generally, were beginning to realise that in the Free State, without accountants and accountancy, they could not exist at
all”i. The accounting bodies of the time may have been perceived as connected to the “old Empire”, and with new found
independence, it is not surprising that an urge to form a new body rose. This happened in March 1926, with the birth of
the Irish Association of Accountants – the beginning of the present day CPA Ireland.
The two bodies
The Irish Association of Accountants was formed on 11th March 1926, the day that Eamonn DeValera left Sinn Féin. Its
legal form was a Company Limited by Guarantee and Companies Office files show the formation expenses totalled the
sum of £35. The first Directors were seven in number, all from Dublin (see Table 1) and all noting their occupation as an
“accountant” or a “public auditor”.
Present use of address
Frederick George Blake
110 Grafton Street
Souvenir shop
William Johnston Bowesman
39 Kildare Street
Thomas Sanders
14 Effra Road, Rathmines
John McConnell
14 Kildare Street
Offices, adjoining Adams Auctioneers
Albert Swain
3-4, Lr. O’Connell Street
Ulster Bank (former)
James Logan
39 Westmoreland Street
Westin Hotel
George Munro
39 Westmoreland Street
Westin Hotel
Table 1 – founding directors of The Irish Association of Accountants
Pictured in 1961, L-R, Jim Downes, Jack Martin, Presdient of Ireland Eamonn De Velera, CPA Ireland President W.A.J Kinsella and Liam O’Dulachain.
The inaugural dinner of the Association was
held on 17th January, 1927 at Jurys Hotel,
Dublin. The chairman, William Bowesman,
noted it was “the first body of accountants
incorporated under the laws of Saorstat
Eireann”i. They had “an imperative of seeing
a high standard of professional conduct in
the coming years”, he added. The dinner was
attended by notable persons of the time,
including Lord Glenavy (James Campbell),
Chairman of the Seanad; Sir Simon Maddock,
a Seanad member; Sir Robert W Tate (Trinity
College) and Dr James S Ashe (Honorary
President of the British Legion).
The first examinations were in November 1926,
with no candidates of a standard to justify
election to membership. The examination
topics were less taxing than today - see Table
2. Exemptions were available from preliminary
examinations and the final examination fee
was set initially at £2 2s.
Preliminary Examination
Intermediate Examination
Final Examination
Book-keeping and accounts, including
partnerships and executors accounts
Advanced accounts, including partnerships
and executors accounts
One of Irish, French, German, Spanish or
Cost Accounts
Auditing and the law
General commercial knowledge, including
Cost accounts
Commercial law
Income tax, including Double Taxation.
Table 2 –examinable subjects of the Irish Association of Accountants
Within a year of formation, the Association
(and other accounting bodies) were faced
with the prospect of regulation under the
Registered Accountants Bill 1927. This Bill
sought to compile a register of accountants,
and ensure that all accountants in the
State were registered accountants with
appropriate skills. The Bill was defeated
in the Seanad on February 24th 1927. The
Association seemed somewhat dismayed
by the defeat and called a general meeting
shortly after. The Association continued for
nearly 40 years being wound up on June
29th 1965. Earlier, on October 24th 1964,
Council agreed to “proceed in negotiations
[…] with a view to amalgamation” with
another body – then named The Irish
Society of Certified Public Accountants. This
amalgamation blended the two bodies to
become the CPA Ireland we have today.
The Society of Public Accountants Limited
was incorporated on January 29th, 1943.
There were eight signatories (see Table 3).
John Scully was the first President of the
Society (see Table 4) and Edmund Farrelli as
secretary. Initial annual fees for members
in public practice were set at £3 3s for
Fellows, £2 2s for Associates - non-practice
members fees were half.
John Callaghan
W.A Cantwell
Thomas Davy
Edmund Farrell
Patrick Farrell
John McMahon
Ignatius Scully
Ernest Walsh
Dublin city centre
Table 3 – the original directors the Society of Public Accountants Limited.
The Memorandum of Association from 1943 detailed familiar features of
CPA Ireland today:
Members were classified as
Associates or Fellows
Associate Membership was attained
through examination and five years’
experience in public practice, as an
accountant employed by the State,
or as an accountant in a company of
good standing
Disciplinary Committee
Number of Council Members, their
appointment, duties and powers.
The first offices were 42 Dame Street,
Dublin which no longer exists (now part of
the Central Bank of Ireland site). Between
1942 and 1958, the offices moved to
99 Grafton Street (site of Weir & Sons,
jewellers), to 78 Dame Street and finally to
2 Dame Street (close to City Hall) in 1952.
By 1958, the Society had 50 members. In
the late 1950’s and early 1960’s as the
Companies Act 1963 was being drafted,
the Council pursued a strategy of legal
recognition to foster growth. In 1961, the
company name was changed to “The Irish
Society of Certified Public Accountants
Ltd” and this new name was granted
recognition under the Companies Act 1963
and members designated ASPA or FSPA.
The merger with the Irish Association of
Accountants added approximately 30 new
In 1971, a name change to “The Institute
of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland”
was made. The change was approved by
the Minister for Industry and Commerce
and ratified by an Extraordinary General
Meeting of the Institute on 18 September
1971. At this time, the Institute had some
200 members, with accountants in Dublin
and Belfast earning £630 annually with
five years’ experience, rising to £2,500 over
time.i. By 1975, membership had reached
almost 500. This year also saw a move to
a new premises at 13 Fitzwilliam Square,
Dublin, and the appointment of the first
full-time Chief Executive, Liam Donnelly. In
1977 the offices again moved, to 22 Upper
Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin. In 1992 the
offices moved to 9 Ely Place, Dublin with
President, T. O’ Gorman calling it a “focal
point for development of the Institute in
the years to come”. Ely Place remained
the focal point until 2007, when Clonmell
House, 17 Harcourt Street, Dublin was
purchased and refurbished.
Pictured left to right: CPA Vice President James Donnelly with Padraig Flynn, Minister for Commerce Energy and Tourism and CPA Ireland President Eddie McConnon
Pictured in 1973, L-R, CPA Ireland President Roderick Neary, his sister Aideen, Seamus Lantry, President of Ireland,
Erskine Hamilton Childers and Neil Haughey
President of Ireland Patrick Hilary with CPA Ireland President Roderick Neary
Table 4 – List of Presidents 1943-2015
J. Scully
1943 – 1947
H.J. Curtin
1971 – 1972
A. Farrelly
W. A. Cantwell
1948 – 1953
S. Lantry
1973 – 1974
D. Solan
G. McMahon
N.J. Haughey
1975 – 1976
M.F. Dolan
J.J. Mallon
R.J. Neary
1977 – 1978
P. O’Feinneadha
J.W. Martin
B.F. Scannell
1979 – 1981
B. Allen
T.F. McCarthy
E.P. McConnon
1982 – 1983
N. Adams
M.B. McCabe
J. Donnelly
1984 – 1985
J. White
A.G. Stack
O.F. Allen
1986 – 1987
G. Meagher
W.A.J Kinsella
1960 – 1962
S.P. Slattery
1988 – 1989
G. McEvoy
J.W. Martin
1963 – 1965
M.A. Lynch
1990 – 1991
N. Byrne
J.G. Byrne
T. O’Gorman
1992 – 1993
J. Aherne
J.M. Lantry
T.L. Keane
1994 – 1995
C. Fitzgerald
L. O’Dulachain
1968 – 1969
P. McCrohan
1996 – 1997
B. Purcell
J.C. Leahy
D.J. Ryan
1998 – 1999
B. McGrory-Farrell
2000 – 2001
B. Coffey
Some development highlights
Membership growth was steady
in the early years, from the 1960s.
Increasing student numbers led to the
establishment of Student Societies. A
Munster Society was established in 1966,
followed by Leinster in 1968. Growth
also led to formalised committees
within Council, and by the early 1970’s
eight formal committees existed,
Taxation, EEC directives, Accounting
Standards and Ethics, Disciplinary,
Regional College, Examinations, Student
Liaison, Memorandum and Articles of
Association and Seminars. A focus on
further expansion led to the appointment
of a Public Relations Officer, the
establishment of a Student Services
Committee and a Recruitment Committee
in 1971, and a newspaper campaign
targeting student recruitment in 1972.
Candidates sitting examinations trebled
between 1973 (198 candidates) and 1979
(596 candidates).
By the milestone 50th birthday of the
1943 Society in 1993, membership
exceeded 1,000 in over 20 countries. In
June 1998, ISO 9002 certification was
awarded - the first to a professional
accountancy body in Ireland and the
United Kingdom, The 2,000th member
was welcomed in the year 2000, the
3,000th member in 2006 and the 4,000th
member in December 2015. Members
are now based in over 40 countries, with
approximately two-thirds of members
outside professional practice.
Prior to qualification and admission, the
early years of CPA Ireland comprised
three examination stages - Parts I, II and
III – with sittings in May and November
in Dublin, Cork and Ennis. The majority
of those joining CPA Ireland at this
point had completed the Leaving
Certificate. In 1974, a meeting
of students and Institute
examiners was held
and it was decided that suggested
solutions be made available to students.
This initiative has proved long-lasting
with an annual education briefing and
outline solutions available.
Increasing membership led to particular
focus on student education, examination
and training. An extensive syllabus
review was undertaken in the mid1970s to take account of educational,
legislative, ethical, professional standards,
responsibilities and other current
developments. A revised syllabus and
examination process was formally
approved by Council in 1976. The first
examinations of the new syllabus were in
May 1977, comprising four stages which
continue today: Formation I, Formation
II, Professional I and Professional II. In
1978, the examination schedule moved
to May/September and 1979 saw the
development of a correspondence course
and full-time courses in Dublin and Cork.
In 1980, a revised student training record
system was implemented. In 1986, a
module system was introduced for final
examinations and in 1990 an examination
centre was established in London.
While overall examination structures
remain largely the same, individual
subjects have evolved to reflect the
changing roles of accountants. The 1977
syllabus comprised several subjects which
remain fundamental today -financial
accounting, management accounting,
auditing, taxation, economics, statistics
and law. By the early 1990s,
additional subjects were
introduced, including
systems, financial management and
public sector finance. Further changes
were made in the 2000’s to incorporate
management, strategy, leadership,
business planning, professional ethics
and corporate governance. In 2008, the
Institute conducted a governance and
quality assurance review and this led
to the establishment of an Academic
Advisory Board, comprising seven leading
academics to ensure quality assurance
practices and continuous improvement.
Advances in technology also led to
changes to tools used within education.
In 2009, a Facebook page ‘CPA Student
Resource’ was launched, providing weekly
updates and networking opportunities.
Also in 2009, the annual student survey
was conducted online for the first time
and an online ‘ExamView’ facility created.
CPA E-learning was introduced in 2010
and by 2015, over 20% of students were
using online learning tools to prepare for
Finally, in 2012 a Certificate in Business
and Accounting was launched. Successful
candidates may then select to
pursue the CPA professional
Pictured in 1983, Mr John Bruton, T. D., Minister for Industry & Energy with CPA Ireland President, Eddie. Mc Connon
Continuing Professional Education
National and international recognition
In the 1970s, the already strong
commitment to education and training
was extended to members to maintain
their professional competence. In October
1978, Council provided for Continuing
Professional Education (CPE) on a
voluntary basis until 1981, at which point
they could introduce mandatory CPE.
As CPA Ireland has grown, it has achieved
recognition from key stakeholders. The
Companies Act 1963 afforded legislative
recognition. In 1973, the Institute was
recognised by the Irish Law Society’s
regulation of solicitors’ accounts. In 1974,
it participated in a project regarding the
minimum standards of education and
training of auditors, subsequently enacted
as the EU Directive on Mutual Recognition
of Professional Qualifications. Also in the
1970s, CPA Ireland successfully applied
for membership to the International
Accounting Standards Committee
(IASC). The worldwide accounting body,
International Federation of Accountants
(IFAC) was founded in 1977 and the
President of CPA Ireland, Mr R.J. Neary, was
one of the founding members to sign its
The mandatory scheme did not occur
in 1981. However, the passing of the
Companies Act 1986 and increasing debate
on ‘public interest’ within the profession
caused a re-appraisal of CPE in the late
1980s. Mandatory CPE was introduced
effective January 1st 1993 – the first
such scheme in Ireland and the United
Kingdom – some 12 years before the IFAC
pronouncement on CPE.
In 1991, CPA Ireland joined the Consultative
Committee of Accountancy Bodies - Ireland
(CCAB - I). In 1994, CPA Ireland joined FEE
(Federation Experts Comptables Européen)
which is the representative organisation for
the profession in Europe. On the passing of
the Companies Act (2003), the Institute was
recognised as a prescribed auditing body
and it also enjoys delegated authority from
the Central Bank to authorise member
firms to engage in investment business. In
2000, CPA Ireland became a member of the
Edinburgh group, a grouping of professional
accounting bodies from around the globe
who share a common interest in matters
affecting SMEs, SMPs and Developing
International alliances
In 1985, CPA Ireland was approached to
assist the development of accounting
in Arab League nations. It was
duly appointed to organise and run
accountancy examinations for students,
commencing in 1986. More recently, CPA
Ireland has been actively engaged in the
development of the profession in Africa for example, the inception of the pro bono
scheme, whereby ICPA-Zimbabwe was
granted free access to CPA Ireland exam
papers. In 2011, Dr Reynolds Tendai Muza
was the first to be conferred with CPA
membership under this scheme.
In 2009, the Institute announced Mutual
Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with
CPA Australia and CGA Canada. This
was followed by further MRAs with the
Institute of Chartered Accountants in
India in 2010 and Bangladesh in 2013.
More recently, MRAs have been signed
with ANAN (Nigeria), SAIPA (South Africa)
and ICMA Pakistan. These agreements
recognise respective qualifications,
promote strategic partnerships and
reciprocal membership. CPA Ireland has
entered into alliances with professional
bodies in Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria,
Lithuania, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
CPA Ireland has also been statutorily
recognised as an approved body of
auditors in New Zealand since 2011.
In 2010, the Institute entered into a
partnership with KOSI Corporation and
was successful in winning €1.5m of World
Bank funded international contracts in
2011. The first, in Mozambique, focussed
on establishing a new national accounting
body. The second, in Rwanda involved
assisting ICPA-Rwanda establish an
education and training model. This
resulted in the establishment of Certified
Accounting Technician and Certified
Professional Accounting programmes and
the initiative was successfully concluded
in November 2012.
The National Association of Accountants
in Nigeria (ANAN) has approximately
20,000 members, half of whom are
within the public sector. CPA Ireland has
collaborated on a number of projects
with ANAN. These include a formal
review of the ANAN syllabus as part of
the process of ANAN’s application to join
IFAC, delivery by CPA Ireland of IPSAS
and IFRS workshops in Nigeria to ANAN
members, and the delivery by CPA Ireland,
in partnership with University College Cork
and the Irish Management Institute of the
ANAN Leadership Programmes in 2014
and 2015. As a result of this collaboration,
CPA Ireland also developed the online CPA
Certificate in IPSAS Financial Reporting
which is available to ANAN members as
part of the move to IPSAS in Nigeria.
To the future
This brief reflection on CPA Ireland’s
history shows a long and solid foundation.
The Institute, has not only survived, but
thrived from its origins in 1926. Member
numbers continue on an upward trend
and the future is bright as CPA Ireland has
expanded its range of qualifications to
include Certified Tax Adviser (CTax) and the
CPA Certificate in IPSAS, which is available
online. In 2014 and 2015, CPA Ireland has
experienced 11% growth in new student
registrations so it is poised for further
With the sad passing of James (Jimmy) Donnelly, on 22 February
2016, CPA Ireland and Belfast lost one of the best known and highly
respected members of the profession.
Jimmy’s career in accountancy commenced with work experience
in the Belfast office of Craig Gardner and, as he often declared
himself, reached a pinnacle when he was elected President of CPA
Ireland on 12 April 1984. Jimmy was the first President of CPA
Ireland who was living and working in Northern Ireland so it was no
surprise that his professional ambition was to grow the recognition
of CPA Ireland within Northern Ireland. Jimmy was elected to Life
Membership of CPA Ireland in recognition of his services to CPA
Ireland, the Ulster CPA Society, and the profession. A wonderful
sportsman, Jimmy represented Antrim in two All Ireland Hurling
semi-finals in Croke Park and was the last surviving player from the
iconic Belfast Celtic. Jimmy is survived by his wife Rita, daughters
Collette and Joanne and sons Jimmy and Gerard.
For those who were privileged to know Jimmy, they will remember
him for his great humour, endless passion for CPA Ireland and
zealous policing of punctuation and grammar.
i - Irish Tines, 9 February, 1925. ii - Irish Times, 18 January, 1927. iii - This is Edmund Farrell Snr, who
was company secretary of the Irish Permanent Building Society from 1940 to 1975. On his death in
that year, his son Edmund A Farrell succeeded him.
iv - Irish Times, 22 January 1971, “On becoming an Accountant”, Con Power.